14. Eccleston Square,
TEL: VICTORIA 0926
22nd May, 1939.
Dear Sir Walter Citrine,
I do not wish to take up your time by a personal interview if it is possible for you to give by letter a decision on the principle involved in the following matter, on which my Government would much appreciate your comments.
As you are aware, there are thousands of Basque refugees in French concentration camps. Among them are many highly skilled workers, particularly in engineering. I have recently been talking to some influential Members of Parliament about the possibility of obtaining permission from the Government for some of these workers to be employed in this country, as, in view of the present shortage of skilled labour in British industry, especially in the arms factories, it seems pity that these men should not be able to put their skill to some good use.
These Members have pointed out to me that it would first be necessary to consult the Trades Unions, as that matter is one which intimately concerns them, since naturally they could not agree to the employment of foreigners, except in positions which could not be filled by British labour.
I am writing to inquire whether, if such suggestion can be agreed to in principle, you would let me know which would be the trades in which it might be possible to employ such workers. Any men who might be admitted would, of course, be vouched for by my Government, who would select them with every care that no extremist or difficult element should be allowed to enter the country.
If such an arrangement could be accepted, it would be a great help towards solving the problem of the maintenance of the refugees in the French camps and also the